Suns win 109-91 over Wizards
The Phoenix Suns played like the Utah Jazz in the first quarter last night, digging themselves into as big of a hole as is possible for any team not based in Cleveland. Fortunately for Suns’ fans, with the team in Washington to take on John Wall and his magical friends, Channing Frye decided to do his best Strom Thurmond impression in the third quarter.
After trailing the Wizards by 1 at the half, Channing Frye refused to relinquish the floor to anyone else in the third, commencing a filibuster in Washington centered on the three-point line. Frye hit 4 3-pointers in the period (he would shoot almost 64% from deep on the night on 11 attempts), assisted on another, and played the entire frame. In fact, Frye led the team in minutes on the night – playing the entire game save eight minutes – and was second on the team in rebounds, behind Vince Carter.
(Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d type! I don’t mean to alarm anyone, but Mr. Carter also led the team in +/- on the evening at +18.)
Frye’s offensive explosion was a welcome addition to Phoenix’s plans for the night, particularly if the Suns planned on winning the game. After the third, the Suns had opened up a 12-point lead on the Wiz. On the season, the Suns typically trail their opponents after three periods. Such a trend this year in the NBA indicates a team that’s playing below .500, as shown in the chart below (all data from games ending on 1/19).
On this night, Frye and his party rendered a fourth quarter comeback unnecessary (even if the Suns did outscore the Wizards in the fourth – a swift act of cloture to put Washington out of its misery).
Grant Hill credited the Suns’ defense, especially in the second half, with spurring the Suns’ turnaround from their double-digit first quarter deficit. The Suns held the Wizards to an offensive efficiency rating of 91.6 on the night.
“At halftime, we were talking among ourselves as players,” said Grant Hill, who scored 12 points. “We were down one and back in the game after playing terrible. Let’s just come out and take care of business. We had a good third and just finished them out during the second half…We’re playing unselfish, and we did a good job of playing defense, at least in the second half.”
In the short-term, the win gave the Suns their fifth straight victory and pulled them within one victory of .500. More importantly, in my estimation, the outburst from Frye and the rest of the Suns – combined with their defensive effort – allowed Steve Nash to rest for over 16 minutes on the night. The Suns’ tendency to pull games out in the fourth quarter has caused Nash to take on quite a burden of playing time. Rest for Nash will be essential to the Suns’ playoff hopes and in allowing Nash to be part of the rebuilding process in Phoenix after this year.
Robin Lopez started the game at center for the Suns but played just over 14 minutes. Marcin Gortat had 30 minutes off of the bench for Phoenix, helping to slow down the Wizards in the second half.